Record-breaking season for girls swim

New times set for backstroke, relay, while team earns honors at divisions

Dominic Lount, Sports Editor

Breaking a record in sports in many cases is not an easy task. It is typically a testament to all the hard work and dedication an athlete puts in to succeed. On Oct. 5 at the girls swimming and diving county meet, freshman Abby Keen had her countless hours spent in the pool pay off, as she broke the Utica girls 100 meter backstroke record. She then broke the record again during the division meet on Nov. 19.

“My time when I broke the record was 1:04.07,” Keen said, “but I later broke it again at divisions with a time of 1:04.02.”

Before the race, Keen was very nervous due to the fact she was swimming against tough competition, as well as harboring a knee injury.

“I was very nervous because since it was counties. I was racing some very fast swimmers,” Keen said, “and I was worried that my injured knee was going to hold me back.”

During the last ten yards of the race, Keen had a burst of excitement heading into the final wall. After the race was finished, she had no idea she had broken the record until she saw her friends and coach jumping and screaming, and that’s when the excitement began to hit.

“I almost immediately started crying happy tears when I saw my time,” Keen said. “My teammates and coach were very supportive and made the moment even better.”

All of the practices and meets leading up to counties had paid off, and since Keen is only a freshman, she has a chance to accomplish even more feats and break more records with three more years of high school swimming left to go.

“I knew Abby would break the backstroke record sometime over the four years,” coach Joe Michol said, “but I never thought she would get it this year as a freshman.”

Keen placed in counties with her backstroke, and placed in divisions as well, helping the girls swim team place seventh in counties, as well as third in divisions.

“I was so proud of her; me and Abby swam club together and it’s crazy to see how much she has improved,” junior Clarissa Rose said. “I can’t wait to see what other great things she will do in her next few years at Utica.”

All of the hours practicing in the pool had paid off, as Keen shaved many seconds off of her time, and all of these seconds helped result in a season that included the broken record.

“As the season went on her time improved each time she swam the event,” Michol said. “For her to drop eight seconds from the beginning of the season to the end took a lot of hard work, effort and natural ability.”

The 200 relay team of Keen, and juniors Brittany Shock, Haley Michol, Anna Kitsios also broke the school record at the division meet, where the entire time placed third.

At the conclusion of divisions, the coaches gathered to discuss teams and vote on special awards. The Chieftains also took home the Best Sportsmanship award.

“We deserved the award because our team always makes sure to congratulate others after races,” Rose said. “We focus on trying our best, rather than placing first. It was really exciting because even though we wanted to win the meet, we still left with an award.”

As the season wraps up, Keen enjoyed her first season on the Chieftain team, and looks forward to seasons ahead. She had accomplished all of the goals she had set for herself this year, and already has her mind set on goals for next fall.

“My goals going into this season were to qualify for counties, better myself in the pool, and place in divisions,” Keen said. “My goals for next season are to break the 200 free record, and the 100 back and 200 medley relay even more.”

With many seniors leaving from last season’s team, and two more leaving this year, coach Michol will take a freshman and sophomore heavy team next season, and, with the help of Keen and the rest of the swimmers, will compete for a MAC Blue title.

“With only two seniors graduating,” Michol said, “we expect to use this years experience to hopefully win another MAC championship.”